Check out these wellness-focused holidays in South-East Asia

A wellness resort in Da Nang lets you practice tai chi within the caves of Marble Mountains. — Photos: Handout

Wellness tourism in South-East Asia is booming, thanks to the many interesting holistic experiences and traditional wellness practices available in the region. Holiday packages that focus on wellness experiences are also on the rise, ranging from spa treatments and meditation sessions, to nourishment programmes and classes.

Water and forest

On the Indonesian island of Bali, there is an interesting cleansing ritual called “Melukat”, or a water purification ceremony. The Balinese believe that this ritual could help a person “wash away” the bad spirits in his or her life.

For tourists, this ceremony gives one the chance to explore the spiritual side of Bali and learn more about local culture.

Tanah Gajah, A Resort By Hadiprana, now offers guests the chance to experience this ritual for themselves within the resort’s own sacred temple grounds. “The village of Bedulu, near our resort, was the capital of Bali’s first ancient kingdom of Bedahulu, with the territory spreading to the surrounding area,” explained Deasy Swandarini, general manager of the resort, in a press release. “Some of our local residents believe artefacts from the ancient kingdom are still buried deep under the village of Tengkulak and even at our property.”

The Petanu river, one of Bali’s sacred rivers, also flows in front of the resort.

A local Hindu priest will be called to perform the ritual, while the resort staff will help guide the guest from start to finish. Proper attire need to be worn (a Balinese kebaya and sarong for women, and sarong for men).

This 60-minute ceremony will include the chanting of Sanskrit mantras, offerings of prayers and other things, as well as the drinking and pouring of water.

If you choose to participate in this ceremony at the resort, a minimum booking of two persons is needed. For more information, check out Tanah Gajah’s website.

Melukat is a traditional Balinese ritual that allows one to ‘wash’ away any negative energy. — Photos: HandoutMelukat is a traditional Balinese ritual that allows one to ‘wash’ away any negative energy. — Photos: Handout

Meanwhile, enjoy another type of “bathing” – one that does not involve water – at the Thai island of Krabi. Sure, Krabi is famous for its beaches and surrounding islets, but many do not realise that there is a beautiful forest reserve on the island, too.

The Khao Ngon Nak National Park is a great place to go for folks looking to do some “forest bathing”, a Japanese practice of calming the senses by immersing oneself in the forest. Banyan Tree Krabi offers a half-day forest bathing walking tour, which leads guest to a hike at the national park. You can do a spot of birdwatching, dip your feet in the waterfall pool or simply take in the wonder of nature on this tour.

Incidentally, the resort is a good starting point for those looking to hike up Naga Mountain.

The national park is open from 5am to 2pm daily. For tour bookings, checkout the resort’s official website.

Meditate and relax

If you’re looking to go on a wellness-focused holiday that not only takes care of your physical body but also your mind and soul, then perhaps Vietnam is an option to check out.

At the Cam Ranh peninsula, one of the country’s up-and-coming tourism hotspots, you can find many resorts that offer attractive wellness experiences that won’t put a strain on your holiday budget. There are healing mud baths and hot springs to enjoy, as well as traditional massages and treatments by skilled therapists.

Most of these resorts partner with local tour companies, like Zazen Travel, to curate the experiences, all of which only involve local communities and businesses.

Meanwhile, in Da Nang, a holistic resort offers a full wellness package that allows guests to experience them at nearby cultural and sacred sites.

At TIA Wellness Resort, located on city’s coastline, guests can enjoy either a “Breathe”, “Flow”, “Nourish” or “Flow” experience, or all of them, during their holiday.

Meditate at the Linh Ung Pagoda, the largest place of worship in Da Nang. After the meditation session, guests can then check out the towering Lady Buddha statue – the tallest in Vietnam at 67m – that presides over the Son Tra Peninsula.

Guests can also head to the Marble Mountains, located near the resort. The sacred spot can only be accessed via a 200-step old stone staircase by the side of one of the mountains. Yes, there is hiking involved.

At the top, you can join in a tai chi session led by a guide from TIA.

For the Nourish segment, guests go on a trip to Tra Que Village to learn about local agriculture and produce, and then learn how to make some classic Vietnamese dishes. The Create segment features a Vietnamese calligraphy session with a local master.

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